Career advice

How to meet patients’ expectations

Feeling overwhelmed? Take some time to think about what really matters to patients, advises Mandy Day-Calder
nurse

Feeling overwhelmed? Take some time to think about what really matters to patients, advises Mandy Day-Calder.

Most nurses support the move towards a more patient-centred NHS, one not only designed around the needs of those receiving care but that also gives patients a voice. However, this shift in focus brings additional pressure for front-line staff to meet the rising expectations of patients and the public.

Professional standards

Advancements in pre-registration education, as well as the scope of a nurses role, have changed the perception of nursing, which is now seen as a profession rather than a vocation or calling.

Before the latest version of the Code was published, the Nursing and Midwifery Council consulted with patients and members of the public, asking what they expected from nurses. It is worth spending

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Feeling overwhelmed? Take some time to think about what really matters to patients, advises Mandy Day-Calder.


Patients want to have their emotional needs valued. Picture: iStock 

Most nurses support the move towards a more patient-centred NHS, one not only designed around the needs of those receiving care but that also gives patients a ‘voice’. However, this shift in focus brings additional pressure for front-line staff to meet the rising expectations of patients and the public.

Professional standards

Advancements in pre-registration education, as well as the scope of a nurse’s role, have changed the perception of nursing, which is now seen as a profession rather than a vocation or calling.

Before the latest version of the Code was published, the Nursing and Midwifery Council consulted with patients and members of the public, asking what they expected from nurses. It is worth spending some time reflecting on these findings to see how your current practice addresses these expectations and what you can improve on.

What patients want 

  • To have emotional needs valued: sometimes it is easy to focus only on what is physically wrong with your patients. Few people enjoy being unwell and individuals cope in various ways, such as being talkative, angry or demanding. Try to think of ways that you can engage with your patients to get a sense of how they are feeling. Being listened to can help build trust and empower your patients to take more control of their health.
  • Being treated as an individual: an essential aspect of the first standard of the Code, this can be challenging in practice, especially with the pressures of a busy ward. Often, small gestures can make a big difference to a patient’s overall experience of care. Try to think of what would make a difference to you if you or someone you loved were an inpatient.
  • Good communication: patients need to know what is happening to them and they will look to you for reliable information and reassurance. Verbal and written information needs to be clear and concise. It is important that you communicate in ways your patients understand. If you aren’t sure if they do, ask them.
  • Continuity of care: effective communication in the nursing team helps to ensure safe and compassionate patient care. As well as details about someone’s condition, remember to pass on other information that can help make someone feel safe and cared for.
  • Professionalism: patients put their trust in nurses, so central to all standards in the Code is the need for you to portray a professional image at all times. This doesn’t mean that you can’t show your character, but find a balance between being yourself and being you as a professional nurse.

Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and life/health coach

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